By continuing to use this site, you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more

Member postings for James Alford

Here is a list of all the postings James Alford has made in our forums. Click on a thread name to jump to the thread.

Thread: What sort of things inspire you?
22/02/2020 09:20:17

The type of things which inspire and fascinate me are machines which are unnecessarily complicated and ridiculously elaborate, yet do very little: the type of contraptions from Heath Robinson and Emmett.

There was such a machine shown on Playschool once thorough the "round" window in the late 60s. I cannot remember what it was, but it left a lasting impression of flailing arms,cogs and wheels achieving very little, just because it could.


Edited By James Alford on 22/02/2020 09:22:44

Thread: bsa bantam transfers
07/02/2020 07:14:55

I have always had good service and quality spares for my BSA from C&D Autos in Birmingham and from Lightening Spares. They may be worth a try if you have not already done so.


Thread: Robot Wars
23/01/2020 07:14:33

The series like this which I used to enjoy was Techongames. It was a sort of mechanised Olympics, with machines designed to swim, climb ropes, kick balls and a host of other sports. I did build a prototype swimming machine to enter, but the series ended before I was ready.


Edited By James Alford on 23/01/2020 07:26:07

Thread: Punching holes in metals
02/01/2020 22:06:27

I have done some punching out of copper sheet: it is not a nice metal for this. The metal tears, rather than shears, unless the punch and die are well-matched and receive a sharp, heavy blow to operate them. Even then, using professionally made dies in a fly-press, I still encountered tearing.


Thread: Opening a Port
31/12/2019 09:04:53


It may be worth having a chat with Ian at Oxfordshire Sevens **LINK**. I know that he has been rebuilding and tuning a fair few Austin Seven engines of late and testing them on a dynamometer. He has also built a few successful racing Seven engines. He may be able to give you some suggestions.



Thread: Carriage Locks
25/11/2019 21:11:57

Thank you for the helpful replies. I had done something similar to Ian's suggestion, having fitted a slightly larger head to the central carriage gib screw and cut a slot in the head for a screwdriver. I did have one with a lever, but there is so little clearance that it fouled the cross-slide. I shall have a look to see whether there is room for an extra screw so that I do not disturb the adjustment of the gib itself.



24/11/2019 09:24:42

I know that this is probably a silly question, but how do carriage locks work? I recently tried milling with a vertical slide on my Flexispeed. My initial attempts with terrible, with everything wobbly about. However, after tightening all of the gibs fully to lock the cross-slide and carriage, things were vastly better.

When I get the lathe back out of storage, I should like to add something to make locking the slides easier and should be interested in what other lathes use.


Thread: Ornamental Turning
17/11/2019 17:30:19

Thank you for all of the book suggestions and the links, which I shall look at. I had done some searching already, but mostly found references to purpose-built machines, rather than modifications for a standard lathe. The Tubal Cain book sounds particulalry promising.


17/11/2019 08:39:57

I am asking purely out of curiosity as I do not envisage ever doing any ornamental turning: is it possible to make an attachment to use on a standard lathe so that it can do ornamental turning? I am thinking more of the engine turning and jewelling than the finish with overlapping burnished circles.


Thread: Flxispeed Meteor II - Centre Height in Gap
06/11/2019 06:54:47
Posted by peak4 on 04/11/2019 23:50:54:
Posted by James Alford on 04/11/2019 22:22:08:

Does anyone know when the Meteor II was discontinued? From the website it suggests that it was in the mid 70s, but I am not sure.


Not sure James, but the receipt for my Simat is dated 1982 (£95)


Thank you.


04/11/2019 22:22:08
Posted by not done it yet on 04/11/2019 07:45:16:

Although not entirely clear when I had a quick look it did appear to be fairly indicative, from this section, that the information was there somewhere.

Quote: “ Although sold with the Flexispeed name cast into the bed the only advertisements seen for this later version show the "Meteor 11" model, but it is known that when the lathe was supplied with a single swivelling tool slide (as distinct from a compound slide) and without the automatic carriage traverse it was known as the "Meteor 1". The pitch of the leadscrew was coarsened from 12 to 8 t.p.i. with the fine feed rate of the carriage, using the original worm-and-wheel arrangement, set at 0.0015" per revolution of the spindle. Whilst the turning capacity of the lathe was unchanged the finish was improved by the use of chrome-plated handwheels and levers - and then promptly ruined by castings painted in a ghastly light-blue Hammerite.“ Unquote.

I must have missed that part: thank you.

Does anyone know when the Meteor II was discontinued? From the website it suggests that it was in the mid 70s, but I am not sure.




Edited By James Alford on 04/11/2019 22:31:36

04/11/2019 07:13:41

Thank you for the replies, which are a great help. I did have a look at the website, but I could not work out whether the dimensions given applied to the later models or just the earlier ones.



03/11/2019 22:24:12

My lathe is currently packed away whilst I have a new garage put up, so I cannot measure for myself: does anyone know what the centre height is in the gap on a Flexispeed Meteor II? I have written down the centre height over the saddlle as 1 7/8", but I have no note of the gap size.



Thread: citric acid
24/09/2019 07:25:59

I used citric acid to pickle copper a lot a while ago. It regularly grew mould on the surface, irrespective of the strength of the solution. However, it worked just as well with or without the fur coat. It just looked a bit grim.


Thread: Thread sizes on flexispeed meteor lathe
22/08/2019 21:52:56
Posted by Mark Edwards 1 on 22/08/2019 14:22:10:

it is the tiny screws in the gibs that I need to sort out, the threads in the castings are fine but the allen heads are all chewed up, so just need to replace the bolts. I do have thread gauges but are metric as this is all I normally need. Will also investigate UNC as well as Whitworth and see if I can figure it out. thanks Mark

I have a Flexispeed Meteor lathe (I was working on it this evening, finally getting a vertical slide fitted and working) and a spare cross slide and saddle. Whether they have been re-tapped in one of them, I do not know, but they gib screws are not interchangeable between the spare and the set in the machine. I have no idea what thread either set are, though, I regret.



Thread: Fibre optic clock
14/07/2019 08:33:14
Posted by magpie on 12/07/2019 09:00:29:

Sorry James. I never thought to take any. However the mate who owns the Austin took these photos of a Bentley I did some work on at about the same time. I thought you might like this car, although lying on my back fixing the wiring and dash was not my idea of a fun time.

That looks like a rather nice car. Somewhat more room in which to work than the Seven, I imagine.


12/07/2019 07:10:59
Posted by magpie on 11/07/2019 22:37:33:

I just had to reply to your comments because as a retired Rolls Royce coachbuilder I get asked to do lots of jobs on cars. Just before my recent health problems I helped a mate to do a complete restoration on...…. an Austin Seven Special.

A small world. Do you by any chance have any pictures of the car?


11/07/2019 19:55:51
Posted by magpie on 10/07/2019 09:06:55:

Hi James. I hope you are still there. Sorry for the very long delay in answering but ill health has kept me off the site for a good while. The clock is driven by a synchronous motor which rotates various cylinders through ratchets and cams. The cylinders contain LEDs and a series of holes, as the cylinders rotate, the fibre optics are exposed in sequence to the light from the LEDs through the holes. I hope this makes sense, not sure if it does to me though.

Cheers, Derek.

Good evening.

I am still around and thank you for your reply. I am sorry to hear of your health problems.

Thank you for the overview of how the clock works which does make general sense. I shall have to read the thread again to refresh my memory as it is a while since I read it.

I still aspire to build some sort of clock, but I am currently building an Austin Seven special, so clock plans are somewhat in the future. I shall save the thread for then, though.

Kind regards,


Thread: Small modeling lathe
07/07/2019 22:04:48

I know that everyone has their own thoughts, but having owned a Peatol (Taig) and now a Flexispeed, I have to confess that I find the Flexiespeed much better, more usable and easier to control than the Peatol. Admittedly, the Peatol was an earlier version, bought in the early 80s.


Thread: RequiredOutside Diameter to Cut 5/16 BSF Thread
23/06/2019 20:10:28

Thank you for the information. I have turned the shaft down and tapered the end a little to ease the die. The die is now cutting nicely.



Magazine Locator

Want the latest issue of Model Engineer or Model Engineers' Workshop? Use our magazine locator links to find your nearest stockist!

Find Model Engineer & Model Engineers' Workshop

Latest Forum Posts
Support Our Partners
Eccentric July 5 2018
Allendale Electronics
Eccentric Engineering
Subscription Offer

Latest "For Sale" Ads
Latest "Wanted" Ads
Get In Touch!

Do you want to contact the Model Engineer and Model Engineers' Workshop team?

You can contact us by phone, mail or email about the magazines including becoming a contributor, submitting reader's letters or making queries about articles. You can also get in touch about this website, advertising or other general issues.

Click THIS LINK for full contact details.

For subscription issues please see THIS LINK.

Digital Back Issues

Social Media online

'Like' us on Facebook
Follow us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter
 Twitter Logo

Pin us on Pinterest